5 New Armored Spider Species Found In South China, And We're Shuddering Just Thinking About Them

Warning: The following article (and photo) is not safe for arachnophobes, or anyone who despises eight-legged critters. According to a study published in the journal ZooKeys, five new species of spiders have been discovered — specifically, "armored spiders." The researchers, Yucheng Lin and Shuqiang Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, examined over 2,000 caves in the South China Karst to find the cave-dwelling arachnids. Gah. Shudder.

So what are "armored spiders"? Well, they're named as such for a reason: They are spiders with an armor-like pattern of plates on their abdomens, which sounds like something out of a science-fiction novel. Armored spiders belong to the family Tetrablemmidae — in other words, science speak for the subcategory of spiders that they belong to. Generally, these spiders live in litter or soil.

Even more fascinating is that the vast majority of armored spiders don't make webs.

The newly found five species, however, don't live in litter or soil. They were discovered in caves, and that's where they live. Interestingly, and also weirdly, they appear to have fewer eyes than most non-cave spiders do, clocking in at a total of only four eyes. And — this may come as a relief to some — these spiders are only about two millimeters long.

So keep in mind that this spider is under a microscope, kay?

The South China Karst is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spans over three provinces, in addition to having humid tropical weather. It has one of the highest biodiversities in the world. In the process of their discovery, the researchers also collected over 2,000 new spider species. As much as we dislike spiders, we wish them luck in making further discoveries!

Image: Shuqiang Li / Pensoft Publishers